This time, I get back to the coast before my engine seizes.
Time to find a field into which to get down! I slide back the canopy, and if there was a keystroke to tighten my seat harness, I would have done that, too.
The scenery is now coming up fast. The ground ahead seems fairly level and - if I can get down between the trees - free of obstacles. Apart from those fences.
Nothing else for it! Down we go.
I flare and hold off for as long as I can, as low as I can, before brushing the ground. There's a cracking sound as my kite smashes through a fenceline, then we jerk to a halt. Made it! But at this rate, I'm in danger of becoming an ace in the Luftwaffe, before the RAF. Still, it's a good landing if you can walk away from it, as the saying goes.
This time, our results are a lot better than on the last show - though with two more pilots lost, there's hardly much cause for celebration. Still, we've knocked down six Huns, if you include the two I'll be claiming. Could have been worse!
It's another fine day and we start with another patrol, this time to the factory in which our aircraft were built - Supermarine's, at Southampton. Which was pretty well wrecked by a daylight raid by KG55's Heinkels on 26 September 1940, supposedly after the Luftwaffe had lost the Battle of Britain. Hopefully not what will happen today, while we're looking after the place!
We've been told to expect replacements in men and machines. But for now, all we can put up are six Spitfires. No point fretting over that. Tangmere is soon falling away behind us...
...and I've swung around to the west, towards our patrol area.
The boys don't take too long to catch up and soon we're climbing steadily.
A quick look at the map reminds me of the basics of our sortie. The summary doesn't repeat the height, though - what was it, Angels sixteen?
The Coastal Command base at Thorney Island is soon slipping behind us. it's a good landmark; also somewhere you can get down, if you're out in this neck of the woods, but can't make it all the way home to Tangmere.
Rather than wait till we're on task, I ask the Controller for a fresh vector about half way there. It's as well that I do, for the Bandits are now reported to be coming in behind us.
Round we go!
And there they are! Sneaky beggars - just goes to show that you can never trust a Hun!
I lead the squadron towards the Bandits, who come under Ack Ack fire as they near the coast. I had thought that I could see one or two other aircraft near them, flying separately and higher up, but they seem to have disappeared. Escorts or attackers withdrawing, perhaps? Anyhow those other, indistinct specks seem to have gone, now it's just us and them. Whoever 'them' is.
I tell the boys to get stuck in and then roll in for my own attack, as the Huns pass ahead and below. Heinkels, they look like, and only about six of them - sheer tactical madness, German Oxo cubes being fed to the British lion. As I bank left, Red 2 is already announcing he's attacking. McAuley is a good pilot and keen as mustard, with a couple of scalps already under his belt.
I get hits on my own target before breaking hard right. At that very moment Taylor, Blue 3, announces he's bailing out!
I strongly suspect he has collided with the Heinkel that's going down in flames with its outer wing panels torn off. It's pretty unlikely hits from .303s alone could have done that so quickly. Not a great start!
I come around in a wide sweep to clear my tail and take stock. There's still no sign of escorts. And the bombers are clearly in a bit of a mess, already. Two of them are still ploughing on to the north-west, with Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, beyond them. Another two are breaking away to their left, harried by a couple of Spits. Another Heinkel is right over on his back, showing his pale blue belly, to their right rear.
The one I think Blue 3 collided with has stopped burning, but is clearly done for.
And I very much doubt the one who's upside down will end up any better off.
He falls away, looking completely out of control, although a Spitfire, just beyond, seems to be keeping an eye on the Heinkel, in case he makes a dramatic recovery. Despite Blue 3 going down, we seem to have the situation pretty well taped.
The two bombers who haven't given up are soon under attack from astern.
The leader is hit and dropping behind by the time I come in for a pass at the other Heinkel.
I really should have steadied her up a bit more before letting fly, but I still get plenty of hits.
But not enough, it seems. The Hun is still flying level and leaving only a thin, intermittent smoke trail by the time I break off, untouched by any return fire.
So I'm quite pleased when I see the Huns bail out and the Heinkel begin to fall away.
Looking around again, the only other aircraft I can now see is another Spitfire. So I decide to chum up with him.
There he is, one of our boys obviously but I can't remember now who was flying YT-M.
I order a recall but it seems somebody is still engaged. Where and how I can't see, but I do see a group of half a dozen aircraft crossing left to right. I decide to investigate, recalling Mick Mannock's advice to treat other aircraft as hostile until confirmed otherwise.
Such confirmation comes when I identify the newcomers as Spitfires. Too many for our lot.
They turn out to be from 610 Squadron. If they came here looking for our Huns, they're a bit late.
I should really have tracked down the rest of my own squadron at that point. But they continue to excuse themselves with claims of being busy, and in the end I decide if they won't come to me, I'd be darned if I'm going to chase about the sky looking for them. So back to Tangmere I go.
There's nobody else in the circuit so I land straight away...
...and am soon safely down.
My screenshot of the debriefing failed but it showed we lost one pilot - Morrison, my Red 3 - and are officially claiming only three Heinkels, including my own. Strange! At least my first two claims have been confirmed. Unfortunately I neglected to put in for a couple of others in between, but at least I've now officially 'broken my duck'!
The next show was an uneventful patrol to the west, around the airfield of Shoreham, next to Brighton (which happened to be where I put down my damaged Hurricane after my most recent RAF campaign mission in Battle of Britain II).
Basically we took off, turned, and climbed east...
...arrived over Shoreham...
...and tootled around for a bit...
...and then for a bit longer...
...and a bit longer still.
Control could find no trade for us. All we saw was six distant specks also tootling about, just much lower down - another patrol, of Hurricanes as it turned out. Control didn't set us on them so I assumed them to be friendly and left them alone, while keeping a wary eye on them until they disappeared out of sight.
As soon as our time was up, I led the boys back to Tangmere. Why Sector doesn't simply scramble us when he has some trade, instead of having us fly these standing patrols to cover ground targets, I don't get.
On a sidenote, the duty roster says we have eight pilots 'in service' and three serviceable aircraft, but we're putting up five - can't quite work that out, as I don't have 'reduced strength' selected. Hopefully, we'll get replacements of both before long.
65 Squadron, Tangmere, mid-afternoon, 16 August 1940
Unfortunately those stubborn Naval people have not yet given up on coastal convoys. Our next mission is to put up a patrol over one, happily not too far away to the south-east. We can manage only five Spitfires, but that's fair enough for this sort of mission.
I'm quickly leaving Tangmere behind and turning back towards the Channel.
By the time we're crossing the coast, the boys are in position, with Red 2 and 3 either side behind, and Blue 1 and 2 off to our left rear.
Climbing harder now, I ask the Controller if he has any trade for us. Which he has, as it happens. Pretty well straight ahead.
As we climb I'm conscious that Red 3 - Skidmore - is living up to his name. Watch what you're doing, you clot!
I push the stick forward and bank left to give him a bit more space, but it's too late. As the others look on in horror, Red 3 clips my Spitfire! Up ahead are the Bandits, but it seems this is as close a look as I'm going to get at them.
Red 3 goes straight down in a vertical dive; there's no sign of a 'chute. My own kite is still answering controls, but power is dropping and I'm trailing smoke, as I begin to fall behind the others.
I order them to split formation in the hope they'll go for the Huns. For myself, I'll be lucky to get home. I quickly turn back north towards the coast. I've been hurt as badly as my Spitfire, by the look and sound of it.
Fearful of passing out from shock and loss of blood, I bail out...
...leaving my abandoned Spitfire to her fate. Again.
Happily, I am saved, but Skidmore has bought it.
I spend an eventful ten days in hospital. My return isn't made any happier by the fact that (though not visible below) my trusty number 2, McAulley, with seven victories to his name, is reported killed while I am away.
Looking on the bright side of life, replacements in men and machines have brought us well back up to strength.
It's about 13:00 on another fine but cloudy summer day that we get our next call to arms. It's a squadron scramble against a raid to the north-east. Our Spitfires are soon on the way - twelve of them, although not all are visible below.
Our vector takes us towards Tonbridge, south-east of the metropolis...
...and we're soon climbing steadily, to at least the 14,000 feet indicated by the Controller.
The cloud cover increases, the further east we go...
...and soon we are amongst some rather dark stuff, behind which any number of dastardly Huns could be lurking.
At this point, though, it becomes apparent that the Huns may have decided against any such activities. A call to the Controller for an update reveals that he no longer has anything for us. It's a bit of a disappointment, to say the least. Over land, we rely on the eyes and ears of the Observer Corps, as RDF looks only out to sea, and the cloud cover is the likely culprit, here. Or the Huns have just gone home.
Nothing else for it, but to patrol our assigned piece of sky, in the hope things could change. So round and round we go.
As it happens, the Huns are still around, closer than we thought.
We fly a few legs of our triangular patrol pattern...
...often unable to see much around or below us.
We do get a sighting of this large body of water, which turns out to be Bewl Water...a reservoir which wasn't created until the 1970s, apparently.
Just as I'm about to ask the Controller for a fresh report, one of the boys saves me the trouble. Huns - down there somewhere on the left!
Banking to get a better look, I see yellow-nosed 109s emerging from the murk and climbing up to get at us. I quickly order the boys to get stuck in, and try to roll down onto their tails myself. But I hit what feels like some rather bad adverse yaw, which nearly puts me into a spin. By the time I've recovered full control, two of the Huns have reached my level and are turning in behind me.
After a bit of dancing around merrily, I manage to turn the tables...
...and am soon after one of them, the other Hun having disappeared somewhere.
I get some hits on the 109 and he rolls over and goes down. At this point, I haven't noticed the group of aircraft visible some way off, near the top of the pic below.
My immediate concern is suddenly my erstwhile target's number 2, who hasn't disappeared after all. Saw him just in time! I break hard to get out of his way.
It's while looking back for the 109 that I notice the large formation, below and behind. Bombers with escorts above, by the look of it!
I've managed to open out some distance between myself and the 109 and I use this to make a dash for the raid, with everything pushed and pulled to get as much speed as I can from my kite. Thoughts of what the others are up to are forgotten. These are the people I came here to get, and I'm jolly well going to get them!
The Hun bombers rumble on, less one of their number but still a formidable force. I've forgotten the 109 that was chasing me, and the escorts I saw above the bombers, which were last seen moving away to the left. If I'm lucky, they are low on fuel and heading home, not circling around behind me.
As I come in for another pass, the bombers are starting a turn to the right.
I pick a Junkers on the outside of the formation...
...and let fly. This time, I'm aware of the return fire. Hits smack into my Spitfire.
I stick with my target, who loses his nerve and dodges out of formation.
I set him smoking, but suddenly, even as I begin my break, tracers flash past me from behind.
The 109s have caught up, and the hunter is now the hunted!
If I had been a second later starting my break away from my pass at the Junkers, the 109 would have hit me fair and square. As it is, I'm already damaged by return fire, leaving a thin smoke trail which criss-crosses the fatter one left by the damaged bomber.
Down and away I go. The abandoned Junkers descends slowly, as the crew sail earthwards under their silken canopies.
Any hope that the 109 has decided to settle for scaring me off is soon dispelled. He's still hard on my heels, and I fired my last rounds at that bomber.
Meanwhile, the bombers are still turning, bomb doors now open. Their target can't be far away - I think there's a factory of some sort, near here somewhere.
But I've more pressing concerns, as I hurtle earthwards with the ground seemingly rushing up to meet me, and the 109 still determined to finish me off. I call for help on the R/T, which is acknowledged, but there are no friends in sight.
I try to pull out before smashing into the scenery. The engine noise is now being drowned out by a positively scary roaring or droning sound, rising in pitch. This could be it!
But the Hun isn't in the least bit put off.
I pull out just in time and bank left, aiming for a road which runs through a gap in the rows of buildings ahead. It's time to find out if the Hun is as desperate to get me, as I am to get away from him.
He's not! I bank right in triumph and relief as he breaks up and away, at last. You can just about see him under the tip of my raised wing. Suddenly he seems in a hurry to make himself scarce. Which suits me down to the ground...literally.
Time to go home, and file claims for those two bombers!
Back at Tangmere, I'm disappointed to see we have lost a pilot, Burby, flying as Yellow 3. How it happened, nobody seems to know. And I'm the only one to have fired my guns.
Still, whether they are ever confirmed or not, we did well to get two bombers, considering the odds. Not a bad lunchtime's work!
As a footnote, I was delighted to see for myself for the first time a respectably-large raid, of about gruppe strength, which I think needs to be the default for a convincing representation of the Battle of Britain. Today, I was convinced! Did FPS take a bit of a hit? Yes, a bit. Did it seriously affect playability? No, it didn't. Might it have, if more fighters had been attacking? Possibly. So while a bit of further optimisation or tweaking would likely help, I will remember this mission as proof of that Wings over the Reich can now achieve a visually pleasing, tactically challenging, personally engaging and historically convincing representation of flying for Fighter Command in the Battle of Britain.
Nice sorty 33lima. Yeppers, agreed, WOTR has its' moments. Overall it is just fun with some really good graphics, convincing AI most of the time and great immersion in Campaign. I think a lot of people are dismissing this little gem and don't know what they are missing.
Our next show is another scramble, to intercept a raid heading towards the airfield at Gosport, just west of Portsmouth. We manage to field 11 Spitfires...
...and are soon on our way.
Contrary to the briefing, according to Peter Jacobs's 'Airfields of 11 Group', Gosport was not a Fighter Command satellite airfield, being a Coastal Command station not used by the fighter boys. Still, it was bombed on 12, 16 and 18 August.
Be that as it may, we are soon turning left and leaving Tangmere behind.
Canopy closed, I lead the pack on what should be a short hop, more concerned with putting on enough height than missing the raid altogether.
A check with the Controller back in the Sector Ops Room at Tangmere confirms we are still in business and heading the right way. Although the enemy's height is now given as 17,000 feet, a couple of thousand more than first reported.
Up we go! I'm flat out and pulling slightly ahead.
Another check with the Controller brings the unwelcome news that he has lost track of the raid, or no longer intends fro us to intercept it. We're left to patrol Gosport in the hope the situation will change.
We're not the only aircraft in the area, however. A flight of what I take to be other RAF fighters is slipping out towards the Channel. A patrol on its way to a convoy, perhaps?
They disappear into the haze to the south-west. I'm tempted to follow them, in case they know something we don't, but orders are orders.
We reach out patrol area and start to orbit. Another check with the Controller confirms the situation is unchanged and there are now no Bandits for us to intercept.
Yet another RAF patrol is heading out to sea. Or perhaps it's the same one, coming and going, patrolling its own assigned beat.
Hurricanes, they are, from 56 Squadron.
They too soon disappear out to seaward.
Our time is up and I decide just to go home. I lose height only slowly in case the Huns show up after all, but further checks with the Controller draw a blank.
When we reach Tangmere, the boys peel off to the right and go down.
Bit of a waste of 100 octane and engine hours, but at least we all made it back in one piece. I'm very well aware that we mightn't be so lucky, next time up. In the meantime, there is some good news - my two Junkers 88s are confirmed destroyed!